The Queen’s collection owes a significant amount of its sparkle to the generosity of Dame Margaret Greville, a friend of the Queen Mother who bequeathed her a treasure trove of jewels. Through gifts and inheritance, many of these pieces now belong to the Queen. Today’s post focuses one jewels from the bequest that are modern and innovative: the Greville Chandelier Earrings.
The diamond and platinum earrings were made by Cartier in London over a period of years, starting in 1918 and ending in 1929. Initially they were a simple pair of brilliant drop earrings. In 1922, they were lengthened using twelve additional diamonds. The earrings were completed in their present form in February 1929, when ten more diamonds were added.
The Royal Collection notes that each earring features “a lexicon of modern diamond cuts.” These include a trio of pair-shaped diamond pendants, plus diamonds in baguette, baton, emerald, half-moon, trapeze, and square cuts. The ultimate effect is that of a modern girandole or chandelier earring, a technical and unique take on an earring shape that has been popular for centuries.
The Queen Mother inherited the earrings from Mrs. Greville in 1942. Five years later, the Queen Mum presented them to her daughter, the present Queen, as a wedding gift. Almost immediately the earrings became favorite gala jewels of the princess, especially after she ascended to the throne in 1952. Above, in November 1952, the young Queen wears the earrings for the Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium in London. On this occasion, she paired them with the tiara and necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad Suite, as well as Queen Mary’s diamond bangles. All of the jewels were wedding presents.
The earrings remained firm favorites throughout the 1950s and 1960s, frequently accompanying the Queen on state visits to foreign countries like the Netherlands and Denmark. Above, she wears the earrings with additional diamond jewels (Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, her Diamond Festoon Necklace, and Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Brooch) for a dinner given by the Dutch government at the Trêveszaal in the Binnenhof, the Dutch government complex in The Hague, during her 1958 state visit to the Netherlands.
During a state visit to Austria in May 1969, she wore the earrings for a dinner at the British Embassy in Vienna. On that occasion, she wore them with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, plus her Diamond Festoon Necklace, the Dorset Bow Brooch, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bracelet.
Though the Queen wore the earrings less frequently in the decades that followed, the earrings could still be spotted occasionally among her gala jewels. In July 1976, she wore them for a visit to President Gerald Ford at the White House in Washington, D.C., pairing them once again with Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik and her Diamond Festoon Necklace.
And in July 2010, she wore them for dinner at the York Hotel in Toronto during a tour of Canada. She paired the earrings with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, plus Queen Alexandra’s Diamond Collet Necklace, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch, and a gown festooned with crystal maple leaves.